Each and all IEML USL (Uniform Semantic Locators) are built from the words of the Dictionary. Sentences are USLs constructed from words and using the uniform structure of the syntagmatic function.

Art: Emma Kunz
Mathematical structure of the syntagmatic function

Like words, IEML sentences have a non-commutative ring structure, but more complex. The alphabet of the syntagmatic function is none other than the dictionary of 3000 words. Sentences are generated recursively by a nine-role non-commutative multiplicative operation and additive operations that correspond to commutative (and, or) or non-commutative (but, because…) junctions.

The nine roles of a sentence

An IEML sentence has nine roles: a root and eight distinct leaves. Some leaf roles may be empty. One of the nine roles has a semantic accent represented by an exclamation mark. By default, the semantic emphasis is on the root. The phrase is recursive: the eight leaf roles may contain any phrase (instead of a word) as a concept.

Figure 1: The Nine Roles of an IEML sentence

A sentence is enclosed in parentheses, and the closing parenthesis is followed by a period
( ).

The roles are numbered from 0 to 8.

0. The root contains the verb (or the noun in case of a noun phrase) to which the other roles are subordinated.
1. The initiator corresponds to the subject in traditional grammar or the first actant in modern grammar.
2. The interactant corresponds to the direct or indirect object complement in traditional grammar or the second actant in modern grammar.
3. The recipient corresponds to the « dative » or third actant of modern grammar.
4. The cause – in a broad sense – is the fourth actant, which corresponds to a role of instrument, causality or ontological structure (type of, part of, etc.).
5. The time specifies the temporality of the sentence (duration, moment, etc.)
6. The place specifies the spatial dimension of the sentence.
7. The intention specifies the purpose, motivation or social context of the action.
8. The manner specifies the qualitative, quantitative, possessive and other dimensions of the root.

Some roles, except the root, can be empty and each role of a sentence, except the last, ends with a comma. Roles 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 can be specified by means of prepositions or auxiliaries belonging to the tool-word paradigms respectively assigned to these roles.

Figure 2: IEML Semantic Compass. The center and the eight directions correspond to the nine grammatical roles of a sentence.
Components of a sentence

Sentences have four types of components: concepts, inflections, prepositions and junctions.

Concepts – represented by full words in the dictionary or by subordinate sentences – are preceded by a hash #.

Inflections, which precede the full words they qualify and are preceded by a tilde ~ specify the grammatical class of the concept (verb, noun, adjective, adverb). They also specify gender, number and other determinants for nouns as well as mode, tense, aspect and other determinants for verbs such as interrogation.

Prepositions, or « auxiliaries », are cases that specify grammatical roles (for example « below » or « above » for the place role). They are always preceded by a star *. The auxiliary is analogous to a functional role parameter.

Junctions can be commutative (« and », « or inclusive », « or exclusive ») or non-commutative (like « but », « therefore », etc.). They are preceded by an ampersand & and the phrases, roles or concepts that are joined are enclosed in square brackets [ ].

Example of a sentence

The #concepts of a sentence, along with *prepositions,  ~inflections and & junctions allow for the expression of narratives and causal explanations.

In the following examples, IEML words and phrases are replaced by their English identifiers to facilitate reading. However, the reader should keep in mind that IEML sentences are built recursively from the words of the dictionary and that they are displayed in the machine as punctuated sequences of the six symbols of the IEML alphabet.

«In the house, the mother tells a story from a book, to her child, with love, among joyful laughter, before she falls asleep ». The sentence in quotation marks above is a literary translation of the IEML sentence that follows, not the other way around.

0 root               ~indicative ~present #storytelling,
1 initiator         ~defined ~feminine #mom,
2 interactant     ~defined #storytelling,
3 recipient        ~defined ~feminine #child,
4 cause            *instrument ~defined #book,
5 time              *before #sleep,
6 place             *in ~defined #house,
7 intention       *colored by feeling #love,
8 manner         *with &and [~plural #happy smile ~plural #caress]

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